Meredith Adelaide is prolific in the best possible way. Over the past three years she’s shot with almost every Portland photographer I know, and modeled for countless Portland-based designers and boutiques. It’s given her the ability to acutely discern which visual artists capture her image the best, and has resulted in a finely edited portfolio of work that spans the breadth of Portland fashion.
When I visit her Southeast apartment on a sunny August day, she’s eagerly editing a set of self portraits recently shot for Solestruck. The set includes an image of her countenance in black and white reflected in the metallic heel of a shoe, as well as a photo of her body, tall and sinewy and towering over the camera, frantically swinging the skirt of a dress. The images are vacuous in a way that makes you fall in, absorbed in her world, and they mark a new phase of creativity in which she takes position on both sides of the camera.
Marrow: How is it different to model for your self portraits?
Meredith: I realized that while shooting myself I move much differently than I do with most photographers. That’s probably a comfort-level thing. My dancing blood comes out (my parents were dancers) and I’m able to really explore myself alone. That, and I have the patience to keep shooting until I get the shot I’m looking for, or at least for it to be good enough to be able to modify into what I want in post.
Marrow: So what’s the process like? Do you do one shot at a time?
Meredith: Typically I’ll have the remote in my hand and the camera will be set to take 10 frames in a row, and then I’ll just move around and I’ll just keep doing that until I get the shot right. When I see the photos later they’re like a rapid fire slide show of a dance.
Marrow: What other projects are you working on?
Meredith: I have a shoot in the Painted Hills tomorrow, and then I’m finishing edits on the Solestruck photos. I’m also searching for more designers to do self-portraiture for in the studio. I want to borrow clothes and shoot them on myself, and then begin to shoot entire lookbooks myself. I really like shooting shoes in that space, and I’ve always loved modeling jewelry and there are some really great jewelry designers in town.
Marrow: Are you going to shoot other people too?
Meredith: Maybe in the future, but for right now it’s purely a solo project.
Marrow: You are your own agent. How have you advertised yourself and booked gigs up until now?
Meredith: Most of my work comes from word of mouth, Instagram, and my website. And word of mouth comes from consistently working in the Portland circuit for 3 years, and as well as Seattle thanks to Craft & Culture–once I started popping up there I’ve been getting more and more opportunities. I just try to get better on each shoot and try things that I am not as familiar with (at one point it was catalogue modeling, another was weddings, etc.) so I can get the experience and be eligible for more kinds of jobs. I don’t want to get stuck with one kind of look so when looking for work I approach those who shoot things differently. Most every photographer has a side project.
Marrow: What makes a photographer appealing to shoot with?
Meredith: For ones I’ve already worked with, they shoot me the way I want to be shot. In general, I’m looking for photographers with an eye for detail as well as a bigger picture. So many photographs have beautiful composition but then there’s an element that isn’t as effective (maybe the framing, or the model, or the background). And so in my world the best photographers are the ones that pay attention to those details and are consistent in their quality, as opposed to photographers who put out a lot of shots and some are good and some are bad.
Marrow: Do you think of those details when you’re shooting?
Meredith: Yes, always. When I’m at home I sit myself in front of a mirror and figure out which angles work best. For example the left side of my face is more French and angular, and the right side of my face is more German and rounded, so when I’m shooting I’m aware of what the mood of the shoot is and which angle would work best–granted I have to always face the light, but I do what I can as obviously I’m not the only person in control on a shoot. Every time I see a photograph I really like I’ll go to the mirror and analyze how my face will look and what I can do to get it again. If I need to lower my chin or if my face should be tilted, etc
Marrow: Are you ever surprised at photo sets after you see them? Do you ever discover new expressions anymore?
Meredith: Oh yeah well I definitely find photographers who bring out different sides and that’s what I’m looking for. One photographer recently came into town and shot me and got a really innocent, doe-eyed look out of me that I really liked.
Marrow: What’s next?
Meredith: My plan this year was travel as much as possible, to LA and New York and San Francisco which I have been successful in and have more plans for. I want to travel overseas and model–basically, traveling for work is my ideal situation right now. I may move in the future but I need to feel out the cities to make sure I’m able to get consistent jobs, or at least have the ability to easily travel in and out.
Marrow: Would you stay freelance or sign with an agent?
Meredith: I would stay freelance unless someone came along to specifically push for me. Right now I’m selling Meredith Adelaide, not a face and stats on a modeling board (because I do realize I’m not an NYC runway model), so perhaps I need more like a manager. Someone who knows what they were doing and who could push me harder than I’m working right now, because I know I could be more focused in my efforts. I’m learning everything as I go, and I’m not really riding in the normal fashion industry.
Marrow: And on the music front? What are you up to?
Meredith: Oh, so I recently received a small business grant and I’m using it to create a custom music house which basically means I’m building a home studio, so I’ll use that to get the recording equipment I need. I’m a songwriter specializing in layering vocals and keyboards–I’ll be creating songs that can be purchased commercially and used for videos or other projects.
Marrow: What’s the timeline for that?
Meredith:I think I’ll have the studio setup maybe by the end of January. Until then I’ll hook up with some other musicians to collaborate with on their projects. I always learn a lot in other people’s spaces.
Visit Meredith’s site for her full portfolio.
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